Abstract: Lipid oxidation products are primary contributors to whey ingredient off-flavors. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the impact of antioxidant addition in prevention of flavor deterioration of fluid whey and spray-dried whey protein. Cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses were manufactured in triplicate. Fresh whey was collected, pasteurized, and defatted by centrifugal separation. Subsequently, 0.05% (w/w) ascorbic acid or 0.5% (w/w) whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) were added to the pasteurized whey. A control with no antioxidant addition was also evaluated. Wheys were stored at 3 °C and evaluated after 0, 2, 4, 6, and 8 d. In a subsequent experiment, selected treatments were then incorporated into liquid Cheddar whey and processed into whey protein concentrate (WPC). Whey and WPC flavors were documented by descriptive sensory analysis, and volatile components were evaluated by solid phase micro-extraction with gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Cardboard flavors increased in fluid wheys with storage. Liquid wheys with ascorbic acid or WPH had lower cardboard flavor across storage compared to control whey. Lipid oxidation products, hexanal, heptanal, octanal, and nonanal increased in liquid whey during storage, but liquid whey with added ascorbic acid or WPH had lower concentrations of these products compared to untreated controls. Mozzarella liquid whey had lower flavor intensities than Cheddar whey initially and after refrigerated storage. WPC with added ascorbic acid or WPH had lower cardboard flavor and lower concentrations of pentanal, heptanal, and nonanal compared to control WPC. These results suggest that addition of an antioxidant to liquid whey prior to further processing may be beneficial to flavor of spray-dried whey protein.
Practical Application: Lipid oxidation products are primary contributors to whey ingredient off-flavors. Flavor plays a critical and limiting role in widespread use of dried whey ingredients, and enhanced understanding of flavor and flavor formation as well as methods to control or minimize flavor formation during processing are industrially relevant. The results from this study suggest that addition of an antioxidant to liquid whey prior to further processing may be beneficial to minimize flavor of spray-dried whey protein.